About me: Willow Danielle Rosenberg was a witch native to Sunnydale, California, a founding member of the Scooby Gang, and the best friend and semi-official sidekick of the Slayer, Buffy Summers. Willow started out as a shy computer nerd, eventually developing her talents to become a powerful and assertive witch.
Willow was introduced to the forces of magic by attempting a complex spell to re-ensoul Angel. To her own surprise, Willow tapped into considerable power during this ritual and would come to practice witchcraft. Willow was quick to grasp basic spells and with support from her girlfriend Tara Maclay, her powers blossomed even more rapidly as did her self-confidence. Milestones in her magical career include the enjoining spell, taking on the hell-goddess Glory and surviving, resurrecting Buffy Summers, nearly ending the world, activating multiple Potential Slayers and, eventually, establishing herself as Earth's most powerful witch.
The expression ‘you look like you’ve seen a ghost’ came to mind. In fact, it was written all over his face. A blink of an eye and the ballroom was an inarguable disaster. He hadn’t been drinking, he reminded himself. His whiskey was stashed beneath the blanket of thick fog tucked away in his hidden truck. Ronon knew he wasn’t imagining this occurrence. He had been at this long enough to know that sh*t plays with your head. It could range between science and the whatnots his old co-worker McKay would ramble on about. Or. It could be paranormal. Less technical jargon that he didn’t sleep through and, oddly, made more sense to him. Maybe cause it didn’t bore him so much. Either which way, he knew he had seen what he had seen.
A low growl came from his dog. He turned. A red-headed woman stood in the doorway, looking more curious than spooked. His face instantly relaxed. Creeped out as he was on the inside, he wasn’t much for wearing his emotions on the outside in front of other people. Well, unless it was a heavy dose of his intimidation tactics, but that was reserved solely for battle. He didn’t foresee himself going ten rounds with this woman. Not unless she was behind whatever magic trick had happened here. The likelihood of that was…well…unlikely. Not based on her body language. No. Based on the parlor tricks and age of the building…this screamed ghost.
Another freaking spirit.
Cause the last one went so well…
Ronon brushed away the memory, glancing towards his German Sheppard, “chill, Grandpa.”
Grandpa let out a high-pitch whine in response, but sat down in response. Mellowing out.
“Sorry, he’s usually pretty friendly,” Ronon said in her usual quiet tone.
The dog was friendly. Normally. Everyone was his best friend, in fact. Until, he got spooked. That was exactly what was happening right now. Grandpa was picking up on something as much as Ronon had been seeing the strange happenstances. He wondered if the dog had seen the shift in the room too. He couldn’t exactly ask him…
Ronon then nodded his head at her question, “yeah. The music woke the welcome wagon up,” he gestured at Grandpa, “which woke me up.” He snorted. “Sounded like it was coming from in here. But…place seems to be missing…you know…instruments.” He gazed around again at the empty stage. Part of him almost hoped he would see an orchestra. Now you see it now, you don’t. Well. Actually. Be more the opposite. His mind was rambling. Anyway, the point was, at least she’d have seen the little magic trick too. Better to be in it together than alone. No orchestra. He looked for speakers instead, but none were hanging that he could spot.
He had a few guesses, but he had just met this woman. He wasn’t about to be like, ‘seems like ghost sh*t,’ before rattling off the strange occurrence with the fog from before, and, of course, how the room had been very elegant only a moment ago. The fog. That was less ghost play…he had forgotten about the fog. No. The fog. That was more demonic. Ronon couldn’t very well suggest that either. He’d sound like he was a few cards short of a deck.
“Must be coming through a vent,” he said instead. “Think I’ll ask the Crypt Creeper ‘bout it,” Ronon said, patting his leg as he walked out of the room. Grandpa followed eagerly as Ronon made his way back downstairs to the front desk.
Empty. Of course. He wondered if the dead actually slept. If so, these places usually had a night crew. He rang the bell. A sharp sound belted out, dinging louder than his ears were comfortable with. He hated loud noises in his old age. Years serving for various government bodies, he couldn’t take the sounds. Right line of work. Hunting the supernatural. Demons were so quiet… He drummed his fingers on the dress impatiently. Being still, waiting, he wasn’t good at it. More of a doer, but those pesky questions got in the way. You have to get the answers before yah can go around shooting things. It was just the natural order of things; wouldn’t you know?
Finally, their host entered. It seemed the dead did not sleep, because the Old Man came out, “up late?”
Ronon lifted a brow, “hard to sleep with all that music,” he gestured his head toward the stairs.
The Old Man smiled pleasantly, “what music?”
Ronon blinked. The guy was old, maybe he really was too deaf to hear it, “the orchestra you got playing. Somewhere. Do me a favor, tell ‘em to take five. Hours.”
“There is no music,” The Old Man replied patiently.
“I can hear…”
The music instantly stopped. A vacuum swallowing it whole. Leaving empty sounds of nothingness in the air. As if…it had never been. Ronon suddenly felt dizzy.
“…it,” his trailed voice finished the sentence.
“It must have been a dream. And you aren’t used to sleep. Perhaps, you should try to get some more…” the Old Man said, almost hypnotically.
Ronon nodded slowly, accepting of this fact, “right. Must have been.”
The Old Man looked up, suddenly with a level of energy, hands clasped on the desk in the most astute manner, “now, is there anything else I can do?”
For Ronon, he simply shook his head. Turning. Disoriented. Dazed, somewhat, he shuffled away. He needed to get back to his room…
The floors creaked as if moaning from age. The fixtures and carpeting screamed of a once opulent youth. Dusty and ratty, the hotel knew what cumulative years would do in the end. There was a draft that ran through the hallways. Shivering bones causing patrons to look over their shoulder, wondering where the window had been left open. Shut tightly as they were, age once again was blamed even on perfectly secured glass.
The floor creaked once more. No one had moved. The bellhop, looking to be as old as the building itself, would smile wryly, “the buildings just settling.”
And perhaps he was right.
It wasn’t the time of place Ronon Dex would choose to spend the night. When traveling back from a case, he found motels that were arguably in better condition than the tarnished grounds of a night’s stay that would once have cost him his entire pay. But the backroads were windy. The nights were becoming darker these days. Already battered and bruised from his last job, he needed a place to land to lick his wounds so-to-speak.
The place had come out of nowhere. Not quite in the middle of the winding mountain landscape, but it made its presence known rather abruptly. Hidden among trees, and a body of water that kept it separated from the town, you had to squint to see it over the manmade lake. Sitting in his truck, Ronon thought about continuing to drive. A jolt in his stomach reminded him of the beginning of a horror novel. But he knew that his adrenaline was still pumping from his last job. He was seeing scares in hotels. The location, if he logically pondered it, and for a rather quiet man of 6’5---he was always pondering something, was probably something to be desired. Quaint. On a glistening lake. Overlooking a humble town.
It made a vacation spot out of a rather nothing little area. Given the size. Given the materials chosen from the outside alone. It was a good place for someone rich, some famous someone who needed to get away in private.
His nerves were simply a rush of too much adrenaline and cortisol messing up his perception. He was seeing monsters because he worked too much and then read too much.
“You think---maybe…you might want to read something. I don’t know…,” his friend John Sheppard would shake his head back and forth.
“Might want to read what?” Ronon would say without looking up from over his book.
“I don’t know. Something a little more relaxing?”
Ronon looked at the cover of his book, a dark faceless shadow somehow staring back at him. Ronon shrugged, “I feel relaxed.” He went back to reading.
Pushing the car door open, Ronon gritted his teeth. The blow to his ribs had done its damage. He patted his leg, waiting for his sidekick to tag along, “c’mere, Grandpa.”
With a graceful leap down, Ronon’s German Sheppard landed on the ground. Stretching his back paws, the ride apparently had worn his companion out as much as it had himself.
“Don’t know if they let dogs in here. But they will,” Ronon noted.
There was a downside to being his size. Everyone was afraid of him. There was also an upside to being his size. Everyone was afraid of him.
Making his way inside the hotel, the condition instantly caught his eye. The yellowing wallpaper. The ratty red carpet. The dust on the black and white photos that once hung with pride. Ronon looked at Grandpa, “yeer…yer the least of their concerns.”
The price of this place had been in the back of his mind. It seemed a bit out of budget and if the required funds were too high for the night, he’d make that half-hour drive towards town instead. Ribs be damned. Seeing the condition of the place…the funds weren’t the problem. Bed bugs were another story.
“Can I help you, Sir?”
Ronon glanced towards the voice. The older man stood behind the desk, multi-faceted in the jobs he performed on these grounds, his pleasant smile was skeletal.
“No. Ah. Was just heading back to my truck,” Ronon answered.
“Would you be interested in a room?”
Ronon blinked. He wondered if they had had a customer since the last black and white photo has been taken. Was that a flapper?
“I’m good. I ah. I’m just gonna head into town.”
“Nonsense. I think you will find our prices are very fair,” the older man looked down at Grandpa, “we even won’t charge for your…companion.”
Ronon lifted a brow. He paused. “I’m good,” he finally said.”
“But the fog is so thick. I don’t see how you will be able to find your way into town.”
“What fog? What are you-?” Ronon looked toward the window.
A thick blanket of fog had landed. Almost in disbelief, he stepped through the doorway, walking just enough to see it beyond the glass. It lay so heavy; he couldn’t make out the parking lot. His truck swallowed whole.
You know that jolt in his gut he had been feeling upon arrival? He was beginning to think he should have listened to it.
“You know, when I was young, I never questioned myself,” Ronon said to Grandpa who was curled up on the bed.
Ronon took it as a good sign that Grandpa didn’t seem too put off by the conditions of this place. He was a good monster detector. Still, there was something going on here. He didn’t need to monster hunt in his spare time to be able to detect that much. Grandpa may not be picking up on whatever it was now, but that was likely because whatever was here likely was still lying dormant.
Give it time.
As he bandaged his ribs in the mirror, he was at least relieved enough to see that the conditions of the hotel rooms themselves weren’t as shabby. They were old-fashioned. No television. No internet. You had to make calls with a landline.
“Oh that must be because of the fog,” the old man had stated easily when Ronon’s phone experienced technical problems.
“Uh-huh,” Ronon had said.
“It’s the radio waves. The fog impedes them,” the old man continued, detecting Ronon didn’t believe him.
“Sure.” Ronon answered.
What was he gonna do about it? Go get lost in the middle of the fog, find his truck in it, potentially lose his dog in the process---only to not be able to drive in this mess? Nah. He was the idiot that had walked into this place. Now, it was becoming abundantly clear that he had checked into another damn case.
And his whiskey was in the damn truck.
Yeah. Ronon was annoyed.
Shutting off the bathroom light, he made his way over to the bed. Throwing the sheets over, he laid down in a bed of denial, pretending he might out-sleep the fog. The light shut out, his body was exhausted. He drifted off fairly quickly for a change…
Scratching woke him up. Instantly, he shot up, Blaster---his intergalactic gun on his travels from his days a Runner, was gripped in his hand. Instinctively, he aimed it in the direction of the scratching. He gritted his teeth as his ribs screamed at him from the thoughtless action. Ronon ignored it, pain could be pushed to the side, potential death could not.
The scratching came again. He gripped his hand tighter on the gun. Then a high-pitch whine. Ronon sighed and put his gun on the table, “Grandpa. Why are you scaring the sh*t outta me?”
People always thought of Ronon Dex as a ‘shoot first’ and ask questions later kind of person. It was mostly true. But luckily for friends, his dogs, his neighbors, he was more of a ‘ask one question, then shoot’ kind of a person. And that question was ‘who’s there?’ He was rash, but he identified his target first. You’re welcome.
“Grandpa. C’mere,” he tried again.
The German Sheppard continued to scratch and whine incessantly at the door.
Quizzically, Ronon stood. He moved across the carpet, opening the door. Instantly, orchestral music filled his ears. Grandpa padded out in the hallway. A single bark and he shot off.
“Hey,” Ronon called, but the dog was doing what the dog did best. Being a dog. He looked toward his weapon, but he didn’t have time go for it. Ronon followed after his pet, making his way past the front desk as the music intensified.
Glancing up at the stairs, he climbed them, the music seeing to grow louder with each step he took. He made his way through another hallway on the left, spotting a pair of double doors opened, it revealed what appeared to be a ballroom.
The ballroom appeared immaculate. Spotless. The hardwood floors glistened. Tables were set-up as if expecting guests. Were there more people staying in this place than he would imagine? In the corner, he noticed a fully stocked bar. Perhaps…
He looked toward the empty stage, he wondered if speakers were filtering music through the room. Taking a step inside, the music stopped instantly. The tables appeared dusty. He glanced at the bar, because who wouldn’t need a drink, and the bottles were old. Liquor inside, but the glasses were caked in filth.
Right about then, a dirty glass wasn’t gonna stop him none…